I am a crime writer, mostly 'cozy' crime but also some psychological thrillers. There are two sets - Cleo Marjoribanks Mysteries (set mostly in the New Forest) and The South Downs Murder Mysteries. There are also some stand alone novels. They are all on Kindle - if you don't have one, get the Kindle APP!
I am also an international travel writer so some of my blogs are about my travel.
I hope you buy lots of my books, enjoy them and enjoy my blogs.
The advent of colouring books takes me back to my childhood.
I loved colouring books and in those days we could let our imaginations run
wild - we chose which colours we wanted to use.
Later came painting by numbers and now we have the less
messy pencils. I understand that fans of these new magazines find it soothing
to sit and colour a picture. Me? I wish I could paint as my late father did but
My artistic bent is more along the lines of embroidery.
Nowadays - and it has been for a very long time - counted cross stitch is the
'fashion'. More doing it by numbers!
The great pity for me is that I love doing 'proper'
embroidery using a host of varying stitches. Unfortunately it is very difficult
to find pre-printed fabric or even stencils and fabric. The last time I managed
to purchase pre-printed fabric - in the early 1990s - the material was
dreadful. I think is something that my mother's generation called crush. It was
difficult to get the needle through this cheap fabric.
My favourite type of embroidery
It was also some time in the 1990s that I managed to buy a
'repeater' stencil. (You damp ironed it onto the fabric as many times as you
need). Fabric? None to be found so I resorted to a white sheet and made a table
cloth and napkins.
I find doing embroidery both restful and a help when I am at
the creative stage of writing a novel. Doing two jobs at the same time!
Take up colouring books? No, not possible. I have repetitive
stress injuries in my right wrist, elbow and shoulder. Writing? I use a
fountain pen - in short spurts.
It is now nearly two months since I moved to this lovely new
flat in Bognor Regis - on England's south coast. It is known as the 'sunniest'
place in England. Not sure about that as we haven't had much of that since I've
been here but today it is glorious.
I should explain that we have two lifts (elevators) - one
for odd numbered floors and one for the even numbered ones. Mostly I have met
people in passing and we have exchanged the time of day or chatted about the
weather. The latter being a very popular English subject! So far I have
encountered mostly Brits and Poles but I did once see a Moslem couple. As we
were about to use different lifts there wasn't time to do more than smile at
them so I don't know where they are from.
This morning I was a little later than usual going out for
my walk (got it up to a mile a day along the promenade) and met two gentlemen
in the lift on the way down. One didn't break into a smile but the other -
yummy! Even ladies of my age can get turned on by a good looking man. We
chatted about the weather while I admired his physique, dark hair and eyes and
listened to his lightly accented English. Turns out he is from Poland and he
told me that this morning his family in Poland say that at the tops of the
mountains have a temperature of 0, yes, zero!
As he was wearing shorts (lovely legs) I assume that he was
also about to do a walk but I was too much of a coward to go in the same
direction. He was probably going to jog anyway and I am well past that
I am gradually getting to discover the delights of Bognor
and know that I am going to enjoy living here more than I did in my last
village/small town where the biggest problems were far too much traffic and far
too little neighbourly interaction. And, believe me, I tried to get to know
'This the first time we meet lady mining engineer,' the
little Indonesian man told me.
I smiled at him. 'I am not a mining engineer. I work on The
'Ah yes. The Mining Journal. We know.'
This was in the mid-1960s and The Mining Journal, a weekly
magazine, in those days was air mailed around the world. It was also a time in
history when the British Government and Indonesia were not officially on
speaking terms. Where were we? In Cornwall and about to go down into one of the
last (maybe the last) working tin mine.
We were all very stylishly dressed - overalls, boots and
helmets. On my arrival I had had to sign a disclaimer absolving the company in
the case of accidents, then handed overalls and shown to a room where I could
put them on. Knowing it would be hot underground I took off my trousers and
shirt and discovered that the overalls were rather too large and missing
buttons. Fortunately I had a supply of large safety pins in my bag. The dishy
looking man who was taking care of me grinned when he saw the pins. I should
confess that at this stage I was unaware of the presence of the Indonesians and
looking forward to going down into the tunnels with Handsome.
Then it was time for the boots - about four inches too long
- and a helmet. This was okay until the lamp was fitted onto the front and my
neck disappeared into my shoulders. Was it ever heavy! Then came the fun of
putting on the webbing belt to hold the battery - large and heavy - at the back
of my waist. I think my knees buckled.
Following my introduction to the Indonesians we were given
various instructions before getting into the cage and dropping down into the
depths of the world. Then it was walking and climbing up and down rungs set
into the walls. My feet weren't much help there as the boots were too long but
at least Handsome stayed behind me, presumably to catch me if I fell.
It was all very eerie as the only illumination was from our
lamps. When one of the Indonesians realised my lamp didn't always point in the
right direction he made me take off the helmet, made an adjustment to the
fitting strap and I put it back on. It fitted! Until then my head had moved
around inside it.
I shan't bore you with the details of tin mining. We were
shown seams of tin ore and various other minerals and had it all explained to
Eventually we returned to the surface and divested ourselves
of the helmets, I said goodbye to my Indonesian friends, then went to change
back into my own clothes.
Hmm. No date with Handsome. Well he was probably happily
Later, whenever I thought over that special visit, I thought
that I and my little men must have looked like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!
I did enjoy myself but wouldn't want to go down another mine thank you very
Although I am sure there are some excellent private
landlords somewhere 'out there', my experience leads me to the conclusion that
most are get-rich-quick merchants and b....r the clients.
Slap on a coat of paint, lay cheap (maybe secondhand)
carpet, put up past their use by date curtain rails, install a reconditioned
oven (which is usually fitted by cowboys and never works properly), cowboy
double glazing (which leaks), double or even thirdhand night storage heaters.
Everything which ticks the boxes for the legal 'rating' and because no officials
check it out, passes as up to standard.
Client moves in, discovers faults and begins complaining. So
does the landlord because he has to spend money. Eventually client gives up
complaining and landlord relaxes. Then gradually increases the already inflated
One landlord I've heard about had two rental flats in 2010
and in 2015 had eight and had given up the day job. Says it all, doesn't it?
Wonder if he now drives a Rolls Royce?
A couple I met who had had to give up their house because
they couldn't afford the mortgage and affiliate house owning expenses told me
that they are now paying more for rent than they had for the loan.
This bubble will eventually burst but in the meantime tenants are getting ripped off.
Yet again I am moving, I have been in the current 1 bedroomed flat for over six years. My new flat has two bedrooms and the rent is lower. It has also just been completed renovated, has a brand new kitchen (with all new white goods), a balcony and there is a lift! No more lugging shopping and library books up staircases.
At the moment my living room seems to be more boxes than furniture. And still more boxes to get packed. I know it seems never ending but I WILL get the packing done before the move in two weeks' time.
So far the only personal damage has been to my finger nails (now there's a surprise!) and a badly scraped shin. I had managed to get up onto a chair without incident twice. The third time not so lucky. Lost my balance, put down my left leg and scraped the shin. Yuck. The major problem is that I have acute hearing which affects the balance. Note to self - use the steps.
It would be nice if there was a Fairy Godmother to come and wave a wand so that the packing would get done so much more easily, but I don't really know anyone younger and stronger than me who isn't out at work. Or has other things to do.
'That's my cousin,' Mum told me as the man on the radio
'Who is he?'
'Sid Buckman. My cousin.'
This conversation, if it could be called that, took place
some time in the late 1940s and was the first time I had heard of Mum's cousin.
As you will realise, they weren't good at keeping in touch.
Over the years I garnered various bits and pieces of
information which, as it was before the computer age, was word of mouth - from
What I gathered of Sid's childhood was that his father died young,
his mother couldn't afford to keep him so he became a Barnado's Boy. Which is
where he learned to play the trumpet and, I presume, to sing.
In the 1920s he was playing with a small group until spotted
by Billy Cotton (Mr. Wakey-Wakey). Sid stayed with the Cotton band until Billy
was taken ill and the musicians dispersed. Then Sid's expertise and talent were
fully recognised by the American bandleader Roy Fox. As well as being lead
trumpeter and vocalist Sid was Fox's right hand man. With this band he made
numerous recordings, some of which are now available on CD.
Unfortunately at the end of the 1930s due to Roy Fox's ill
health, this band also 'dis-banded'.
I believe that during the war years Sid played with various
bands and, by the time Mum brought him to my attention, he was with the Charlie
Shadwell Band which was a part of the BBCs 'backbone' of bands.
It also toured the
country and in 1953 was doing a summer season in a huge tent on the green in
Paignton, Devon. Which is when I met him.
We went to a matinee and in the interval went to the stage
door. One of the musicians came out, took a look at Mum and said, 'You must be
Sid's sister.' Both with prematurely white hair and the same blue eyes.
Sid eventually retired and died in 1981.
Does musicianship run in the family? I play piano, have
played guitar and done my share of singing.
Sid's Mum was my grand-dad's sister bearing the name Linley.
If you know your musical history.....
Soprano Elizabeth Linley married Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
Her composer brother was a friend of Mozart and her father founded the Bath
Opera and helped fund the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (before it burned down!).
No, I'm not sure whether we are direct descendants but you
never know what you might find in your history.
Do you suffer from dry eye? Or been told by your doctor that this is what you have?
I have - about four times, twice by doctors as they signed prescriptions for eye drops. And they have included anti-biotic, false tears and some gel ones. Nope, none of them worked, only aggravated my eyes. Eventually I decided to stick to a mild over-the-counter eyewash which works.
The third doctor diagnosed Blepharitis, printed off a copy of the information and the prescription for get type drops.
Having read the information sheet I came to the conclusion that Blepharitis is a 'catch-all' name as three conditions associated with it are: Seborrhoeic dermatitis, rosacea or - wait for it! - dry eye syndrome.
Apparently there is no one-off cure for Blepheritis. You are told to follow a set of treatment rules. Unfortunately, whoever came up with it hasn't made any allowance for people with various disabilities:
Gently press the eyelids with a facecloth soaked in very warm water for 5-10 minutes. If you cannot bend over the basin how do you do this? Someone suggested carrying the wet cloth into the bedroom and lying on the bed! Oops, water on the floor, bed and clothes. And, of course, by the time you are prone, the flannel will be cold. I won't bore you with the rest of this treatment. A suggested alternative is a reusable heat bag which you put into the microwave. I did buy one but as I have Repetitive Stress Injuries in my arms and shoulders and it is heavy I couldn't hold it up to my eyes. Neither can I lie on my back for the required length of time. In order to try to prevent recurrences you are also recommended to carry out this eye and lid hygiene every day.
I eventually sorted out my own 'cure' which may have worked or my eyes may have cleared up by themselves. As I also had a rash (nettle?) on my upper chest I assumed I was having an allergic reaction to something(s).
Whenever my eyelids itched I filled the basin with hot-hot water and held the flannel over my eyes for a few seconds at a time for as long as my back would let me. Dried my eyes, gentle massaged the lids then applied Simple Eye Balm to the lids and around the eye area.
Now I do this every morning, takes less than five minutes and, fingers crossed, might help to keep 'it' at bay.
If anyone has any more suggestions for alternative ways to deal with this all of us sufferers would appreciate them!